Vodka-drinking driver in court

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2014
Emily Short
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
BROKEN BONES: Emily Short leaves the Christchurch District Court on crutches.
Colin George Martin
Kirk Hargreaves/Fairfax NZ
HIGH-SPEED CRASH: Colin George Martin pleaded guilty to drink-driving and dangerous driving causing injury.
emily short
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ
SYMPATHY: Emily Short, who was driving to the West Coast when she was hit by drunk driver Colin Martin.

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Colin George Martin drank vodka while driving, swerved across the road, tail gated and pulled obscene gestures to other motorists before he smashed head-on into a pregnant woman's car. 

Yet his 20-year-old victim, Emily Short, is willing to meet the ''deeply depressed'' 65-year-old so he can apologise in person. 

Martin, a Redwood shift worker, appeared in the Christchurch District Court yesterday, where he admitted charges stemming from the May 20 crash at Lewis Pass.

The high-speed impact left Short with multiple broken bones, lacerations and fearing for her unborn child. The unborn baby survived.

Martin pleaded guilty in the Christchurch District Court to drink driving and dangerous driving causing injury. 

He was twice the legal breath alcohol limit. 

Short, who still has casts and crutches, attended the court hearing. 

Afterwards, she felt a mixture of anger and sympathy.

''It was good to see that he was really sorry and affected by it. He does seem quite genuine.''

''It's a mix of emotions. I'm angry at what he did, but ... his situation doesn't sound too good. A mixture of anger and sympathy at the same time.''

Martin said felt ''sick to my stomach'' and ''very depressed'' by his actions. 

He wrote a letter to Short the day after the crash, but had been unable to get it to her. 

''I've got their number, now we are going to be in touch,'' he said. 

''I'm going to financially, first of all, get her car back on the road.''

Short was driving her Honda Logo to her grandparents' Westport home when she reached a blind bend on State Highway 7, near Patersons Creek, about 4.15pm.

The police summary of facts said Martin drove onto her side of the road before the bend. 

''She was left with nowhere to go,'' the police summary said. 

Short, who was 12 weeks pregnant, was knocked unconscious on impact. 

She suffered a broken femur, wrist, fractured neck, fracture eye socket and a severe knee laceration. Doctors had told her she may be on crutches for a further six months.

After the crash, Martin tried to drive away. However, a wheel had come off his ute and he went down a bank, the police summary said. 

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He tried to restart his vehicle before a passing truck driver convinced him to hand over his keys. 

Attending police found Martin in an ambulance, smelling of alcohol and ''showing signs of being intoxicated'', the summary said. 

A 1 litre bottle of vodka was found on his front seat. 

''The defendant stated that he had a couple of beers at the Reefton pub and admitted to drinking the vodka as he drove,'' the summary said.

Both vehicles were written off.

Witnesses described Martin driving erratically and aggressively before the crash, swerving across the road at high speed, tail gating, passing dangerously and making obscene gestures out the window of his ute, the police summary said. 

Judge Couch remanded Martin on bail for sentencing on August 27. 

The judge forbade Martin from driving, despite his lawyer Tony Greig asking him to be allowed to do so to get to work. 

Short said outside court she was willing to meet Martin and wanted an apology from him. 

''You can't drink drive like that. If he can learn how much this has had an effect on my personal life, and gets to hear more from me about it, it may teach him more of a lesson than most of the judge's sentencing would,'' she said. 

Short was still in pain and taking her recovery ''day by day''. 

''It's frustrating as I can't even carry something from one end of the house to the other. To get a glass of water, I can't even do that.''

Martin spoke to Short's father at court. He said it was a comfort to learn Short ''holds no bitterness against me.''

- The Press

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